Posted by: Waheeda Harris | November 6, 2012

The king’s castle

When you travel to Europe, you expect to see the palatial residences, and especially to see castles. It’s one of those architectural creations that speak volumes about a country’s past.

But when you travel to the United States, royalty is not something you are expecting to see in any form. Yet, when I visited Hearst Castle in central California, it felt like I was visiting the home of a  former king.

William Randolph Hearst definitely was the 1% of his time period – taking over the San Francisco Examiner in 1887 from his Father’s rule, Hearst built the world’s largest newspaper chain and soon added magazines to his portfolio making him a media magnate of the beginning of the 20th century.

He built “the ranch” as he called Hearst Castle between 1919 and 1947 – a towering residence that sets it stage from the beginning. Visitors take a 10 minute shuttle bus up to the castle, which isn’t visible from the coastal highway.

As you step from the bus, the gentle scent of citrus fruit surrounds you – there are numerous lime, lemon and grapefruit trees that surround the estate. Then there’s the endless marble, tile and stone – from majestic staircases, large terraces, numerous rose bushes and palm trees.

I saw numerous styles of tile that reminded me of Italy and Spain, sculptures that were reminiscent of Greek and Roman antiquities and then it struck me – could these be real? Actual antiquities?

I was overwhelmed by the gardens, the architecture and the style – and I realized the owner had wanted everything – no expense spared, and no area left without any decoration. And so much of it had been sourced from Europe, transporting its culture and history by default to this reclusive residence in coastal California.

No royalty has ever really existed in the United States, but Hearst created his own, and found the way to create the surroundings in Hearst Castle.


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